Colombia beat Peru 3-2 in the Copa America third-place play-off thanks to a sublime stoppage-time strike from Luis Diaz.
Porto winger Diaz, who had put Colombia 2-1 ahead midway through the second half, settled a thrilling contest in the 94th minute with an exceptional long-range effort.
It came 12 minutes on from Gianluca Lapadula’s equaliser, after Juan Cuadrado had cancelled out Yoshimar Yotun’s opener, with the match seemingly destined for penalties – Colombia having gone the distance in both previous knockout rounds.
Yet Diaz ensured third place was theirs without the need for such drama, capping off an impressive campaign for Reinaldo Rueda’s side, who also gained revenge for a group-stage defeat.
Peru should have gone ahead in the 28th minute – Lapadula to drilling wide when one-on-one with Camilo Vargas.
Carlos Cueva teed up that chance, and Peru’s chief creator was at it again on the stroke of half-time, scampering down the left to race onto Sergio Pena’s long pass, before cutting inside to find the onrushing Yotun, who made no mistake with an excellent first-time finish.
Peru’s lead was short-lived, however, with Cuadrado sneaking in a free-kick at Pedro Gallese’s near post to restore parity shortly after the restart.
Diaz had a sighter soon after, with Gallese making the stop, but there was no stopping the pacy wide man in the 66th minute.
Released by Vargas, Diaz took the ball under control with his chest and placed a fine effort into the bottom-right corner, only for Peru to hit back again when Lapadula headed home from Raziel Garcia’s corner.
But Diaz had the final say, the 24-year-old driving in from the left and engineering space for a shot 25 yards from goal, sending a wonderful finish into the top corner to seal victory.
What does it mean? Colombia have something to build on
Rueda made a divisive call by leaving posterboy James Rodriguez out of Colombia’s squad, though he can at least point to tangible success in Brazil as justification for that decision.
Colombia’s focus will now shift to qualifying for the 2022 World Cup, though they have lost their last two matches in that competition, winning just one of their four qualifiers so far.
Diaz matches Messi
With his superb double, Diaz joined Lionel Messi – who will lead Argentina against Brazil in the final – at the top of the Copa America scoring charts.
He had four attempts on Friday, all of which hit the target, and he could well be a target for some of Europe’s bigger, or wealthier, sides ahead of the 2020-21 campaign.
Cueva’s efforts prove fruitless
Cueva had a slow start to the tournament, but was at his best in Brasília. He created three chances in total, second only to Colombia’s Cuadrado (four).
Had Lapadula taken the first of those opportunities, it may well have been Peru who went on to take the bronze medal.